TMTR People Solutions

Top 6 reasons why succession planning is failing today?

Is your business undergoing a generation transformation? Trying to pass on legacy to your next- in-command? Business continuity and performance depends on the success of succession planning. Many organizations fail to replace their key leaders such as CEOs, which has immediate negative impact on stock price, company reputation and employee morale. Here are some typical reasons why succession planning fails:

  1.  Failure to develop specific criteria – Often individuals are selected for promotion with justifications such as “I like her” or “he is a good guy”. Failure to develop clear, understandable criteria does not encourage the selection of the most capable leaders. Most assessments are done by line managers who are not trained in observing behaviour.
  2.  Too complex criteria – This is the other extreme of the problem. Some believe that a search for even more “scientific” and detailed criteria will lead to better decisions on candidates. But in reality, this is a futile process. Usually, adding more science or more sophistication to the succession planning process does not improve its effectiveness.
  3.  Emphasis on quantity rather than quality – Managers should keep in mind that all employees cannot be and should not be developed to be senior executives. Efforts must be focused on selected few who are most capable of working in critical roles. Succession planning which involves in developing all employees as prospective leaders is a waste of time and efforts. Focus should be on 20% of the top achievers at any level.
  4.  Misidentifying talent – Organizations struggle with correctly identifying talent, especially high-potential talent. They also struggle to define potential in a measurable way. If wrong persons are promoted/moved to critical roles, it damages both – individual careers and organizational success. Having a clear and robust definition of “potential” is very important.
  5.  Not being aware of internal successors – Board of Directors is likely to choose external candidates, as they find them more exciting and promising. Board and other executives prefer outsiders as they find it difficult to imagine someone at the top after seeing him operate in a lesser role for years. But in reality, internal successors lower the risk involved in transition than outsiders.
  6.  Using past plan for the future - You need to choose leaders whose skills align with future goals. To avoid this trap, make sure succession plans align with the long-term strategic vision of the business.

Looking to plan successors for your business? Please stay tuned for our upcoming article next week or connect with us at

Written On : 2017-09-07 14:54:24

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